A photo of a woman holding a book pictured in a library with the text Research Strategy 2023-28

Memorial University has matured into a research-intensive, multi-campus, post-secondary institution over the past decade guided by our Research Strategy Framework (2011-2021). Research includes all aspects of scholarship and creative activities, as well as the dissemination of results and the sharing of knowledge in forms that are appropriate for each discipline. The creation of research includes exploring diverse perspectives, methodologies, academic practices and other forms of inquiry. It also involves working with individuals inside Memorial and outside the university such as in communities, in industry and other stakeholders. Research activities may result in the translation of knowledge into products, practices, performances, policies, community engagement and other forms of innovation. More than ever before, research activities highlight Memorial’s important contributions to a socially resilient, economically prosperous, culturally vibrant, inclusive, innovative, healthy and sustainable Newfoundland and Labrador.

This renewed Research Strategy reflects the dynamic environment in which research activities occur at Memorial. Our Core Principles guide us in everything we do as we look towards new goals for the future. We have redefined Goals and Objectives, and refined our Strategic Research Themes. The Research Strategy aligns with Memorial’s 2021 strategic plan Transforming Our Horizons, which emphasizes the theme of “Dynamic Research – Global Reach and Local Relevance.” Significantly, we are committed to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action; increased emphasis on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism (EDI-AR) and Indigenization; greater expectations for Memorial to actively participate in the economic recovery of the province; and mounting pressures for a move to a carbon neutral economy to combat climate change. Memorial is also committed to adoption of the seventeen United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals: no poverty; zero hunger; good health and well-being; quality education; gender equality; clean water and sanitation; affordable and clean energy; decent work and economic growth; industry, innovation and infrastructure; reduced inequalities; sustainable cities and communities; responsible consumption and production; climate action; life below water; life on land; peace, justice and strong institutions; and partnerships for the goals.

The renewed Research Strategy is founded on a commitment to engage with researchers, communities, partners including industry connections and to recognize the ongoing intensification of research activities at Memorial. This is evident in several concrete actions and outcomes. First, Memorial put in place its ground-breaking policy Research Impacting Indigenous Groups (RIIG) in 2020. Due to its importance and challenges launching during the pandemic, we are currently involved in extensive consultation to revise the policy to ensure continuous collaboration and improvement. Second, in order to strengthen diverse dissemination paths for research outcomes and to encourage greater economic impact, Memorial revised its Intellectual Property Policy. Third, Memorial has seen approximately 50 per cent growth in research funding since the implementation of the 2014 Strategic Research Intensity Plan. Fourth, the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic provided greater awareness of the need for increased flexibility and structure changes that are designed to enhance research outcomes.

Memorial experienced significant growth over the past decade in national and international rankings. According to Research Infosource, Memorial ranked 18th among Canada’s top research universities in 2021. Over the past five years, Memorial holds the position of top Canadian university for the study of marine/ocean engineering in the ShanghaiRanking Consultancy’s Global Rankings. In 2021, Memorial was included for the first time in the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings, which are the only assessment measuring global impact of universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. In 2022, Memorial ranked very well in the goal 14 (life below water) and is among the leading universities in Canada in the category. Memorial also received favourable rankings in four other key goals: 4 (quality education); 5 (gender equality); 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure); and 17 (partnerships for the goals).

The achievements of Memorial’s researchers, and many of our strengths, were celebrated in The Big Reset: The Report of the Premier’s Economic Recovery Team (May 2021) and the provincial Public Post-Secondary Education Review (April 2021). Additionally, Memorial’s strategic plan Transforming Our Horizons 2021-2026 embraces that “Memorial boasts nationally and internationally leading research expertise.”

Acknowledging the significant accomplishments of the past decade, our Research Strategy will sustain this momentum into the future. We set out the Core Principles for research at Memorial and identify the Goals and Objectives necessary to build on our accomplishments. The Research Strategy supports Memorial’s growth as a research-focused institution and the need for up-to-date research infrastructure and support services.

As an aspirational document, the Research Strategy pushes us to pursue, support, and celebrate research excellence. We are attentive to the impact of research, in all its forms and outcomes as appropriate to specific disciplines, both locally and globally. Such impact includes how published and/or creative work influences thinking or disciplines. Excellence also considers the quality of the educational experiences and mentorship provided to undergraduate and graduate students who are involved in research.

In addition, research excellence means considering our work through the lens of EDI-AR and Indigenization. These concepts take into account inequities in opportunity, unconscious bias, and other systemic barriers to success. The Research Strategy emphasizes Memorial’s commitment to engage in ethical research including EDI-AR and Indigenization in all its forms, through all our campuses, to respect human dignity and communal growth and developments. As a working document, the Research Strategy shapes action plans and informs Memorial’s strategic investments in support of research.

Members of the Memorial community are encouraged to provide feedback about this Research Strategy through Received comments and ideas will help inform future operations and strategic planning. In order to ensure our research community thrives, we will continue to review the Research Strategy to assess performance of our Goals and Objectives and continue to communicate Memorial’s research successes and developments.